Governor Brown, do not sign the death warrant of unhappy people

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Getty / The daily Beast


My daughter was the victim of assisted suicide, but she is not the only one.

Right now, a law hurriedly pushed through the California legislature after multiple defeats sits on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown and awaits his signature. As both a mother and a nurse I beg Governor Brown to veto it.

In 2009, I lost a beautiful, physically well 30-year-old daughter, Marie, to suicide after a 16-year battle with substance abuse and other issues. Her suicide was like an atom bomb dropped on our family, friends and even her therapists.

Despite all of our efforts to save her, my Marie told me that she learned how to kill herself from visiting suicide/assisted suicide websites and reading Derek Humphry’s book Final Exit. Derek Humphry is the founder of The Hemlock Society, now included with other assisted suicide groups  and known as Compassion and Choices. The medical… click here to read whole article and make comments



“Unbearable suffering” questioned in documentary on Belgian euthanasia

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This documentary from the Australian SBS network is one of the best on Belgian euthanasia that I have seen. Although short on statistics and background, it gives an insight into its disturbing ethical dilemmas. Journalist Brett Mason interviews two patients about their request for euthanasia and asks a number of doctors and public figures whether the increasing number of cases for unbearable suffering can be justified. 

Peter Ketelslegers is a 33-year-old father of two who suffers from cluster headaches. This condition – according to Belgian doctors – is untreatable. The pain is so intense that he can no longer work. He feels that he should die so that he won’t be a burden to his boys and his wife. 

Simona de Moor is 85, physically fit and mentally sharp. But five minutes after her beloved daughter died, she decided on euthanasia. Mason films her “mundane and unremarkable” last moments as… click here to read whole article and make comments



Fate of assisted suicide in California hinges on Governor

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It is up to one man to decide whether California, America’s most populous state, will legalise assisted suicide – its Governor, Jerry Brown. Bill ABX2-15 has sailed through the legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

The pressure on Mr Brown is enormous, with both sides of the intensely contested issue deluging him with information, arguments and emotional pleas. The bill will automatically become law unless he vetos it.

However, it is very difficult to know how Mr Brown will vote. “You’d need some kind of séance to figure out what he’s going to do,” Jack Citrin, director of the Institute of Government Studies at UC Berkeley told Time magazine. “He plays his cards very close to the vest.”

Mr Brown was once a Jesuit seminarian and he is still spiritual. But no one is quite sure whether he regards himself as a Catholic. “He’s essentially… click here to read whole article and make comments



“A vote for life and dignity, not for death”

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Perhaps the most effective speech in yesterday's debate in the British House of Commons about assisted dying came from Dr Philippa Whitford, an MP for the Scottish National Party. She spoke after many years of experience as a specialist breast cancer surgeon. Here are some excerpts. 

(For more news on the debate, see our Careful! blog.) 

I believe that this is not just a tidying up of a small legal anomaly. It is, rather, a crossing of a Rubicon, as was mentioned earlier. It is changing and legalising the killing of one person by another, regardless of the reasons why we would want to carry that out.

The Bill’s weaknesses have been mentioned, such as the problem of finding general practitioners who would write a report. In actual fact, quite a lot would be willing to do that, but not so many would be… click here to read whole article and make comments



Assisted dying sinks in UK Parliament by 3-1 margin

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A private member’s bill to legalise assisted suicide has been defeated in the British House of Commons by a crushing 3 to 1 margin. It was the first time in 20 years that a bill has come to the lower house. Despite high-profile support from the former director of public prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, now a Labour MP, and a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, MPs defied opinion polls and voted against the measure by 330 votes to 118.

However, the issue is far from dead. Sarah Wootton, chief executive of the group Dignity in Dying, which lobbied hard for the bill, said that Parliament was out of touch with public opinion and that the battleground will now shift to Britain’s courts, which have sympathised with the view that assisted suicide is a human right. 

“Parliament has failed to act and if it… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Lancet stumbles over assisted dying

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At long last, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, appears to have made up his mind about “assisted dying” in the United Kingdom, a few days before Parliament votes on a private member’s bill this week.  

As he pointed out in the Comment section of his journal, “Careful readers of The Lancet may have noticed that we have had little to say about assisted dying (or physician-assisted suicide) in recent years. Moral cowardice? Perhaps more that we couldn't easily make our minds up.”

Dr Horton’s article is not a ringing endorsement of the bill. But in his carefully worded assessment of its safeguards he rings no alarm bells and he underscores his perception that there is a “growing consensus” on the issue.

Altogether, it is a world away from his position in 2006. Back then, commenting on another assisted dying bill, he wrote: “A… click here to read whole article and make comments



The great debate

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I had heard it described as the “clash of the titans” and other similarly grand claims evocative of gladiatorial contests of one kind or another. But for those who have known or observed Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Professor Peter Singer in any previous forum, a titanic battle was never really on the cards.

Marketed simply as “The Euthanasia Debate: Singer v Fisher” the event at the Sydney Town Hall last week was described by one journalist as an event where: “arguments flew in both directions but rarely met”. It was a respectful exchange from two well-credentialed people whose views were never really expected to coalesce upon common ground.

Fisher’s was a straightforward approach. In his opening remarks he drew moral distinctions between killing in response to suffering and actively supporting and engaging in answering the needs of the sufferer until death summarizing that the latter “demands more from us”… click here to read whole article and make comments



Reviving the slippery slope

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“Of all the arguments against voluntary euthanasia, the most influential is the ‘slippery slope’: once we allow doctors to kill patients, we will not be able to limit the killing to those who want to die. There is no evidence for this claim.”  [Italics added.] So wrote one of the world's leading defenders of euthanasia, Australian philosopher Peter Singer, in 2009.

Some more recent reports agree. A group in the UK which called itself the Commission on Assisted Dying declared in 2010 that there was no evidence of a slippery slope. Earlier this year the Supreme Court of Canada explicitly rejected the idea of a slippery slope when it legalised assisted suicide.

Among opponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the words “slippery slope” are ridiculed as a logical fallacy. Why should one bad move necessarily lead to another? The satirical newspaper The Onion once… click here to read whole article and make comments



Court tussle over right to euthanase Dutch woman with dementia

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Sorry, we missed this euthanasia story from the Netherlands. It deserves to be more widely known.

Cobi Luck on the day of her death.   

An 80-year-old Dutch woman suffering from dementia was euthanased on April 24 after a sternly-worded court order addressed to her nursing home.

The woman, who was later identified as Cobi Luck, had a stroke two years ago. She became paralysed and totally dependent on carers in Ter Reede dementia specialist care home in Flushing. But when she asked her son to get the nursing home to organise euthanasia, the director refused. In his opinion, supported by the woman’s own doctor and a psychologist, she was not mentally competent.

Ignoring the advice of the nursing home, Ms Luck’s family supported her request, so they called in Levenseindekliniek (the End of Life Foundation). This organisation arranged for two… click here to read whole article and make comments



Comedy is deadly serious for Philip Nitschke

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Many a comedian fears “death on the stage”. Not loss of life, exactly, but that split second when a joke misfires and he loses the audience.

Jenny Kleeman, a journalist with The Guardian, has been following Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke as he enters a new career as a stand-up comedian at the upcoming Edinburgh Comedy Fringe Festival in Scotland.

Much of her video report (above) comes from a workshop in London where Nitschke has been road-testing his show in front of members of Exit, his assisted suicide information group. Kleeman’s comments are telling: “Is Philip about to change the way we view the ‘right-to-die’ or is he about to ‘die on his feet’?”

As I watched the Exit crowd I found myself thinking of “the four Ws”, as many in the disability community would say. Indeed, the audience was “White, Well, Well off and Worried”. One participant interviewed parroted the… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at

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